Joy Gendusa shares how PostcardMania has revitalized its niche industry

Joy Gendusa established her own business, run out of her home, in 1994 and launched PostcardMania in 1998. She is now the chief executive officer of that company. In 2021 PostcardMania, which has evolved into a full-fledged marketing company, broke $80 million in revenue, employs more than 300 people and represents more than 100,000 customers, in more than 350 industries.

Bridgette Bello, publisher and CEO of Tampa Bay Business and Wealth, interviewed Gendusa in front of a live, sold-out audience at the private residence of Taylor and Sonya Ranker, in Odessa.

Tell me about something fabulous that has happened for you, or your business, since becoming Miss December 2021 [since appearing in TBBW].

Well, we did just win two awards. One, we made for the 10th year in a row, being named a top workplace in Tampa Bay. We don’t know what number we are yet and also for the country. But that was pretty exciting.

During your interview, you spoke about technology and how that influenced the growth of your company. Can you talk about that?

I didn’t get to really thank my tech team the way I would have liked to [during the interview].

Everyone here [tonight], tell them that she raved about them and all the amazing things that they’ve done for her and PostcardMania.

We really used to be just postcards. Just printing and mailing postcards. And now we’ve gone full circle. And we’re a full-service marketing company with digital [capabilities]. But then we even took it to the next level where now, data companies, media companies can work with us and sell direct mail. But we’ll do the fulfillment for it. And it’s very hands-off. And it’s because it’s so hands-off, it’s really, really, affordable.

And then we also have an amazing website-to-mailbox product. We can actually deliver a postcard within 24 or 48 hours from the time they visit a website.

You talked a lot about your parents in the interview and how supporting and loving they were, even though you were a handful. How did that upbringing influence you in your early career and how does it influence you today?

It made me a better mother than I probably would have been. In my career, I watched my dad leave the house at 6 a.m. and get home at 6 p.m. my entire life. It really instilled in me an incredible work ethic.

Even though I was a terror, I was a hard-working terror. I always had various jobs growing up and I worked a lot. It just gave me the confidence to do whatever I wanted to do in this world. They literally made me feel like the sun came out when I walked into a room, and, of course, I thought they were the worst parents in the world when I was a teenager. But looking back, they really instilled the confidence in me to be able to do what I did.

You were very creative and even used a class project to get a product sold in stores. We didn’t have space to include that in the story we ran. But I think it was a really great work around a creative moment or a pivot moment. Do you want to share that story with the audience?

I went to the High School of Art and Design in New York. And there was a competition in a fashion design class I was taking, and we had to design a hair accessory and we had to build one. We had to draw it and also get the materials and I think we had a couple of months to do this project, and ne’er-do-well that I was, I waited until literally the night before.

I looked at what I had in my satchel, like what kind of fabrics did I have? And I figured something out. I drew, in my mind, that they would be suede and leather headbands with florals and barrette. I worked on it until like 3 a.m., went to school the next day and, it turns out, I won $100.

It was the Riviera Co., and they sold them in Macy’s. I got to see them actually on the shelves. And I guess the pivot, or the thing I realized, is that maybe I actually have some talent. Maybe I’m actually good at stuff.

Is that what kind of kicked you into, I can do this, I can run a business?

No, not even close. It took having babies and a necessity level to make money for me to realize. I never thought I could have a business. I was just a goofy girl.

One of the things that we talked about was that you had small children and you were a working mom. I’ve been there. I’m sure there’s a lot of people in the audience who have been there. There’s a tremendous amount of guilt that’s associated with that. But you were very brave about it. So why don’t you tell them what you told us when we talked about it?

I was very guilty about it. But I wound up actually setting a really good example. I like to tell moms, don’t worry about it. It’s the quality of the time that you spend with them. I was very into communication with them. We didn’t have electronics, like we do now, so it was definitely easier to just be in communication. They turned out fine. I think they actually appreciated me because I wasn’t waiting on them hand and foot.

Talk about PostcardMania and some of the ways that you give back to the community, as a company.

We’re constantly looking for things to do. I don’t know what the count was of the gifts that we just donated; it was probably over 1,000 gifts for children. My staff comes together and donates these presents. They really like to be a part of it.

We do fundraisers all year long for the Community Learning Center. We donate postcards to nonprofit [organizations] all over the world, probably to the tune of 100,000 pieces, printed and mailed, because a lot of nonprofits just have a really difficult time raising money and paying the bills.

I saw on social media that you were playing the movie Home Alone for your employees the other day while they were supposed to be on the phones and working. Talk about your culture and how important your culture is to your success.

I started my business because I wanted to work someplace where there was no office politics. At the time, it was just a couple of us, including Melissa Bradshaw, who is sitting here in the front row [tonight], with me from day one of PostcardMania. And we just had fun. And we didn’t ever want that fun to stop. When we got large enough, we made an official no-office-politics, no-negative-chatter policy. It’s a zero-tolerance policy. And I’ve had to put a couple of heads on a pike.

What is the best piece of business advice that you ever received?

Since I didn’t go to business school, I really just learned as I went. I would say that you have to market [your business] so much more than you really think is a normal amount, in order to really grow to the size that you want to grow.

Like, when people asked me how I was able to do it, I just really marketed way beyond what I thought was a reasonable amount. I feel like there’s that. And also doing things very rapidly and not waiting is something that I really took on. We say speed of particle flow alone determines power. And we really like to make things happen fast. And we’re super nimble.

ABOUT ‘CEO CONNECT’

TBBW’s “CEO Connect” series is an exclusive, invitation-only, event that brings together the Tampa Bay area’s top business leaders to meet and mingle. Encore Bank and Source 1 Solutions were presenting sponsors. TriNet was a gold sponsor. The host sponsor was Questmont Strategic Wealth Advisors. AVSS is TBBW’s AV partner.

The evening begins with a cocktail reception for about 120 guests, followed by an interview with that month’s cover CEO.

Partnering with TBBW on future editions provides an opportunity to network with the business elite, generate new business and increase brand awareness.

For information about event sponsorship opportunities, email Jason Baker at [email protected].

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